Master of National Security Policy

Focused on the tools of defense policy analysis, taught by RAND policy experts

Fall 2024 Application Information

  • Deadlines: Apply by June 15 for earliest consideration. Applications accepted through August 1.
  • Application Fee: None for Fall 2024

Why Choose Pardee RAND?

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Grow your career and build the knowledge you need, contribute more at a senior level, apply tools and analytic frameworks, and understand the complex field of national security policy.

Through Pardee RAND's Master of National Security Policy, you will

  • Focus on the tools of defense policy analysis, applying policy analytic frameworks to develop solutions to national security challenges
  • Learn how to acquire, manage, visualize and analyze qualitative and quantitative data
  • Develop subject matter expertise in particular areas of national security, such as the defense acquisition process, national strategy, or space policy
  • Undertake research and analysis on important national security questions
  • Take classes taught by RAND national security policy experts in an applied research setting

Program Basics

Santa Monica, CA, and Arlington, VA
Full time, 9 months; or part-time, up to 3 years
$50,000; scholarships up to $25,000 available. Learn more »
Important Dates:
 DeadlineNotificationDeposit Due
Round 1May 15May 29June 14
Round 2June 15June 29July 14
Round 3July 15July 29August 14
FinalAugust 1August 15August 29
How to Apply:
Complete our online application. We will accept applications for rolling admissions through August 1.

Learn More

Join our Associate Deans of Enrollment and Academics for online info sessions on May 29 and June 6.

Register for an MNSP Overview


Tell us about yourself, and we'll provide feedback on your fit with our programs!

Submit a Pre-Application


Students complete a minimum of 12 units to graduate: 4 units in Policy Analysis for National Security, 3 units in Empirical Analysis for National Security, 3 units of National Security electives, and 2 units on a Capstone Project.

Policy Analysis for National Security (required, 4 units)

  • Emerging Technology and National Security (0.5 units)
  • Implementing Good Ideas (0.5 units)
  • National Security Policy, Strategy Making and Implementation (1 unit)
  • Perspectives on Policy Analysis (1 unit)
  • Policymaking in Complex Environments (1 unit)

Empirical Analysis for National Security (required, 3 units)

  • Cost-Benefit and Cost-Effectiveness Analysis (1 unit)
  • Introduction to Quantitative Analysis (1 unit)
  • Introduction to Qualitative Analysis (1 unit)

National Security Electives (3 units)

Exemplar classes are listed below. Courses vary by year.

  • The Intersection of Emerging Technologies and the U.S. Defense Acquisition System
  • Economics of National Defense
  • Understanding Nuclear Forces
  • The Interagency and National Security
  • The U.S. Defense Budget and Acquisitions Process
  • Space Policy
  • Cyber Policy
  • Biosurveillance
  • Political Geography for International and Public Policy
View our complete Course Catalog

Capstone Project (2 units)

Complete a capstone project to demonstrate mastery of national security policy analysis. Students will work with their advisor to determine the appropriate capstone.

Sample Schedule

The following is a sample schedule for a full-time student. Courses listed in bold are required core courses. Please note that actual schedules may vary based on course availability and student preferences.


  • Perspectives on Policy Analysis (1 unit)
  • Introduction to Quantitative Analysis (1 unit)
  • Implementing Good Ideas (0.5 units)
  • Emerging Technology and National Security (0.5 units)
  • Space Policy (1 unit)


  • National Security Strategy and Implementation (1 unit)
  • Introduction to Qualitative Methods (1 unit)
  • China’s National Security (1 unit)
  • Capstone (1 unit)


  • Policymaking in Complex Environments (1 unit)
  • Cost-Benefit and Cost-Effectiveness Analysis (1 unit)
  • Games for Policy Analysis (1 unit)
  • Capstone (1 unit)

Admission Requirements

  • Be available to participate in person from our Santa Monica or Washington campus
  • Have completed a bachelor's degree by the program start date; some prior work experience is desired
  • Demonstrate a strong interest in national security policy; all majors and disciplines are welcome

International students must also provide proof of funds if requested, before a formal letter of admission and a Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status (Form I-20) will be issued.

Apply Now

Career Paths After Pardee RAND

Employers seek out and highly value Pardee RAND graduates for their intellectual agility, strategy and expertise, and unique ability to apply analytic tools and methodologies.

Our graduates pursue careers as:

  • Policy Analyst
  • Research Specialist
  • Program Evaluator
  • Consultant
  • Local Government Officer
  • Policy Advisor
  • Civil Service Administrator
  • Foreign Affairs Officer/Diplomat


Here are some of the frequently asked questions we've received. If you have others, contact us!

The course schedule for fall 2024 is still being finalized. Classes will be offered on weekdays, either during business hours or in the evening. Courses are taught by faculty based in Santa Monica, Washington, and elsewhere. Some courses may be offered remotely or hybrid.

Full-time students enroll in 4 units per quarter (excluding summer) and complete the degree in three quarters or roughly 9 months. Part-time enrollment is also an option, with a customized course load and completion timeline based on individual circumstances.

Some courses will be online, in person, or hybrid. Most courses will be offered in person to facilitate interaction with faculty and students.

Yes, the capstone requirement can be fulfilled through an independent thesis, a group project, or on-the-job training (OJT) on a RAND project with prior approval.

Anticipated class sizes are small, ranging from a few students up to 30.

Yes, summer intensive courses will be offered as part of the program.

While hiring decisions are made by RAND's Global Research Talent departments, the MNSP program provides exposure to RAND research that can be beneficial for future opportunities.

There are no OJT stipends associated with the program, but working on a RAND project is an option for the capstone, and students can be paid for this work. Employment at RAND is independent of program admission.

The MNSP is not STEM-designated, but students can take quantitative coursework and electives in STEM fields.

There is no internship component, but Career Services can assist in identifying opportunities post-graduation.

The MNSP can serve as a pathway to the Ph.D. program, with transferable units and a fast-tracked application process for successful MNSP students.